Monday, December 6, 2010

4G is Arriving!

Do your local cell towers seem more crowded and sprouting more antennas? Verizon has just activated their 4G/LTE network; it is yet another entry in a field which is becoming crowded. 4G is a term for "cellular wireless internet" (aka DATA) which on average is about 10 times faster than existing 3G data connections and competitive in speed with basic DSL internet connections. Clear® already has their WiMax/4G network which even works at home at speeds of 6.0Mbps down/1.0 Mbps up (check their map to ensure you're near one of the towers, else you'll get much slower 3G speeds!). Which 4G (roaming or at home) is right for you?

ISP Bundles

It's becoming more complicated (and EXPENSIVE) to have internet service separated from cable TV and phone service. Comcast® and AT&T® both have triple bundles where you get the basics of all 3 services for about $99 per month. But what if you just want internet? Son Jeff recently bought a house in Wheaton, and was interested in only having internet service along with a Digital TV antenna for local channels. He thought he could save some money by streaming video (with commercials) from websites such as , and especially live sports (www.ESPN3.COM). If you're going to stream video, a basic internet download connection at speeds of 2Mbps or less won't really be enough, especially if your 'target' is a 40" HD-TV. Plan on paying $50 - $60 per month just for an internet connection with enough speed for video streaming. You may think a DSL connection costs less, but it requires a standard AT&T phone line, and Jeff wanted to rely on his cell phone for that. Clear's WiMax® service for home seemed to fit well ($45/mo, 6.0Mbps down/1.0 Mbps up), until we found that it's not on ESPN3.COM's list of internet service providers. Neither is my 3G Verizon Wireless MiFi. Comcast wants $59.95/month for internet alone, $69.99 for internet + basic TV, and another $10/mo for High Definition.

And you thought CELL phone plans were complicated (and expensive) between minutes, text messages, and now Data plans!

Net-net, if you haven't yet combined your services to save money, it's probably time to do so.

More Tablets

There are pluses and minuses to Samsung's Galaxy Tablet (middle image). Biggest plus is a slightly lower cost. A smaller screen (7") makes it easier to hold than an iPad, but -- it's smaller! Biggest minus -- it crashes a lot more than Apple's iPad.

To date the Galaxy Tablet has shipped over 1 million units (much of that "filling" the sales channel). iPad has sold over 8 million since April, and is #1 on every kid's holiday wish list.

If' you're trying to decide, the old rule of thumb is: "Look at the applications first". To complicate this, it's not just Windows vs Mac -- an Apple iPad is NOT a Mac, it's "iOS", which covers iPhone & iPod Touch as well. Galaxy Tab is "Android" which has an entirely different set of applications for smartphones and tablets. And then there's the Blackberry OS, Microsoft's latecomer "Windows Mobile 7", and HP/Palm's fading WebOS/PalmOS. For an application developer who has to convert applications from one 'platform' to another, which one would you choose first... and then second? Right! iOS first, and Android second.

A word of warning: even Google cautions Android won't be fully tablet ready until v3.0 next year)...;txt
...and vendors such as Lenovo, LG and Acer, are timing their own tablet releases to coincide with Android 3.0...
...and next year there will also be tablets from HP (WebOS) and Blackberry (the "PlayBook").

Smartphones with cameras have already caused a 16% decline in sales of basic "point and shoot" cameras. As Tablet applications become more sophisticated, this all spells trouble for PC sales ... and Microsoft revenue/profits.

Future Smartphone Concept

For years the automotive world has had 'concept cars' incorporating advances in technology and design. Well, here's a generic 'concept smartphone' from Mozilla Labs® (the Firefox people). I know, you may think your current smartphone is a concept only because you don't know how to use all the features! What's a Pico Projector and why would a smartphone need TWO of them? Watch this 2.5 min video below (either link).

A next generation smartphone incorporating the features shown IMHO might completely replace desktop/laptop/netbook computers as we know them today.
PCWorld® doesn't think we'll see dual Pico Projectors in next year's iPhone......
...but at the pace things happen, you never know.

From today's science fiction to tomorrow's products, Professional Nerds® is Delivering 21st Century Technology™

DNS - IBM (it's better manual!)

This is an old joke from my IBM days where "IBM" means "It's Better Manual". Recently Comcast had an internet outage where their internet was working...
...but their DNS (domain name servers) were down. The internet operates on IP addresses, for example, and DNS translates these to website names, such as With the DNS down, all of your Favorites/Bookmark website names could not be translated to IP addresses, and you'd get a message: "Internet Explorer cannot find the webpage".

Your Router usually gets a DNS address automatically along with your IP address. On both the router and the PC's DNS settings, change the DNS checkbox from automatic to manual. Use the big DNS server from Google®: For your second choice, another good DNS is from Level 3 Communications®: For a laptop, make sure you change the DNS settings for BOTH wired and wireless -- they're independent of each other.

Manually setting the DNS on the PC (both wired and wirelessly) also protects you against "DNS poisoning" where a virus on one PC used a router's default ID/pw to change the DNS. The remaining PCs on 'automatic DNS' became "sitting ducks" because the automatic poisoned DNS would not allow critical/security updates and virus signature updates for security software.